As fans of both the art of photography and the complex tools that help us to capture images–namely cameras–we at Digital Photographer would like to pose a question:
What do you think the future holds for point-and-shoot cameras, when it’s possible that in, say, five years time the cameras built into cell phones will meet the level of shooting sophistication of most consumer level digicams? Will point-and-shoot digital cameras as we know them today become irrelevant or, perhaps, extinct?
So called “instant cameras” have been around on the consumer level since 1948, when the Polaroid Model 95 went on sale (ref. The Impossible Project); and beginning in 1963, the Kodak Instamatic began to make photography accessible to the masses.
As it stands today, there are over 130 new compact digital cameras on the market, offered by Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung, Fujifilm and Kodak, and each of these manufacturers seems to be in a never-ending race to crank out more. Meanwhile, most anyone who owns an Apple iPhone (like myself) would agree that the image quality of the camera feature in the phone is inferior to even the lowest level point-and-shoot digital camera on the market. Sure, the 3MP camera boasts a built-in auto focus (iPhone 3GS) and a tap-induced digital zoom, but most digital cameras being produced by the above named companies come standard with, at the very least, an 8MP image sensor and 3x optical zoom. Oh, and there’s also always a little helpful feature called flash, which the iPhone still lacks. But the iPhone does record video as well as stills–something that a large number of the current point-and-shoot cameras on the market cannot also claim.
Join the discussion by posting a comment with your thoughts here, or at the DP page on Facebook.
Tags: Cameras, Canon, Fujifilm, future, iPhone, Kodak, Kodak Instamatic, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, point-and-shoot, Polaroid, questions, Samsung, Sony | 4 Comments »
photo © Li Fan- China, Sony World Photography Awards 3rd place winner- Photojournalism & Documentary- Sport 2009
It’s Wednesday afternoon and all that most people can think about is how many days, hours, minutes remain until the weekend. But not you, you’re a photographer! You’re never bored, but are always plotting your next photo shoot or researching the new D-SLR you’ve had your eye on. We’re right there with you, friend. To keep the wild world of photography on your mind midweek, here’s our roundup of what’s been happening in it lately.
- The Sony World Photography Awards invite you to win tickets to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa with your best football image (that would be soccer to us Americans).
- DXG has announced the DXG-125V, a compact and rugged weather-proof HD camcorder.
- The deadline to register for the Epson Red Sea photography competition, with $80,000 in prizes, is coming up very soon.
- Mac users got a Stuffit upgrade from SmithMicro.
Tags: announcements, camcorder, contests, DXG, DXG-125V, Epson, Epson Red Sea, HD, Mac, photography, soccer, Sony, Sony World Photography Awards, sports, Stuffit, World Cup 2010 | No Comments »
Sony has announced two new a (alpha) D-SLRs: the a550 (14.2MP) and the a500 (12.3MP). Both cameras feature the new generation of Sony’s Exmor CMOS sensors and are Sony’s first D-SLRs to offer an in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature. Find more information on the new cameras from Sony after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »
by Theano Nikitas
Published Winter ’09
Sony Goes For The Gold With A 24 Megapixel Full-Frame Digital SLR
“Thin is in” for compact cameras, but not for digital SLRs—especially the new Sony A900— a full-frame camera that features a record-breaking 24.6 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor. In the same vein, the megapixel war may be over for most digital cameras, but it appears to be alive and well in the full-frame D-SLR arena, and once you see the detail captured by the A900, you’ll understand why.
But the A900 is not just about megapixels. The camera is equipped with a solid feature set and a lot of tweaking ability— more than enough to satisfy serious photographers, but with a low learning curve. Sony’s SteadyShot technology is in the camera body and provides built-in image stabilization. Also, an on-board sensor cleaning mechanism helps keep the sensor dust-free. The A900 doesn’t have Live View technology (the ability to see your image in the LCD right up through capture), which may or may not make a difference to you. I certainly didn’t miss it.
Compared to other full-frame D-SLRs recently introduced, the A900 is competitively priced with the Nikon D700, but about $300 more than the Canon 5D Mark II. However the A900 is less than half the price of the new Nikon D3X. The A900 is available in a body-only package. Bundled with the camera is a Lithium-Ion battery and charger, video and USB cables, a remote commander and software, a shoulder strap with eyepiece cap, and a remote commander clip so you don’t lose them. The bundle also includes a body cap, accessory shoe and a printed manual. Additional software includes an Image Data Converter, Image Data Lightbox, and Picture Motion Browser (PMB is Windows only). You might also want to pick up a MiniHDMI to HDMI cable to connect the camera to your HDTV for playing slideshows.
Sony offers a wide array of lenses, but since the camera is equipped with a Sony/Minolta A-type bayonet mount, anyone with a stash of Minolta glass should take a very serious look at the A900. I tested the camera with Sony’s 24mm-70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens—a pricey $1,750, but a great lens.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Don Sutherland
Published Spring ’09
Compact And Packed With Features
A lot of people looking for the best camera for snapshots mistakenly say, “I’m just an amateur, I don’t need a lot of features. I just want something simple.” Well, today’s “simple” camera comes standard with loads of high-end features. Sony’s DSC-G3 Cyber-shot includes face detection, smile shutter, touch screen LCD and even the ability to access the internet via wireless connection for transferring photos direct from the camera to popular photo sharing websites. All this, yet the camera is quite tiny, fitting inside a shirt pocket with room to spare.
With a camera so compact, you need never be without it; with so many features, there’s practically no picture you can’t take. That’s a lot of camera for a list price of $499.99 (or less—as this is written, we’re seeing it advertised for as low as $432.00).
Of all the novelties in the Sony G3, the most celebrated is its Wi-Fi Internet connectivity. Several pro cameras have this kind of feature, but the G3 is the first in the snapshot market. Under the right conditions, it can greatly expand the fun of taking and sharing pictures.
The benefits accrue to the traveling photographer, wherever a hot spot is to be found.
A wireless transfer, all other things equal, may be slower than a hardwired connection, but it’s a lot faster than none at all. If you have friends eager to see your photos and videos, the G3 is prepared to abide.
The wireless system in the G3 can communicate with its counterpart in your computer, although you may have to work your way through issues like encryption and firewalls before connecting (as you would with most devices). For uploading to online photo sharing sites, the G3 can connect directly to a half-dozen popular destinations including Picasa, Photobucket and YouTube.
The wireless transfer has the broadest benefits to users in the field—out at a location where their computers and drives and storage solutions are unavailable. Some may find it frustrating that only one file at a time can be uploaded to the sharing sites mentioned above, however. Batch uploading several photos at a time would eliminate the need to choose “the best” under conditions that might be hurried and distracting. I’m guessing this is a firmware consideration in the G3, and possibly future editions of the camera (or firmware upgrades) will correct this restriction.
There is also still the option to download images from your camera to your computer by removing the Memory Stick and inserting it in a reader. This is my preference, as it’s the fastest, simplest, and least error-prone approach. The G3 also comes with about 4GB of internal memory, which can be transferred to your computer by wireless connection, or using a special cable supplied with the camera.
Touch Screen Control
The G3’s monitor screen is quite large (about 3.5-inches wide) and very bright, but it still could be overwhelmed if struck directly by sunlight. An optical viewfinder, or eyelevel EVF, would have been a thoughtful addition for conquering those tough moments.
But also, a touch screen for camera settings instead of separate buttons in the camera body keeps costs down, as virtual “buttons” on a monitor screen cost nothing extra to construct. In addition, physical buttons create spaces through which moisture and dust can enter the system. A touch screen reduces this prospect.
One of the helpful features of this touch screen is that you can frame-up a scene and then touch the part of it on the monitor that you want the camera to focus on, and it will.
Face detection has taken the market by storm, and for good reason. By locking onto a face, the camera’s auto focus can follow it around the frame and maintain settings for the face itself and not other components in the scene.
Adult faces have different characteristics than children’s’ faces do, so the G3’s face detection mode can be adjusted for either kind, enhancing its accuracy according to subject.
In addition, the system can recognize a smile and cause the camera to do something in response— such as taking a picture. The smile shutter permits your stepping into the scene and joining a portrait, with no remote-control devices needed other than your grin. Since some people smile more broadly than others, the “smile sensitivity” of the G3’s system can be adjusted to suit.
The imager includes 10.1-megapixels, all or some of which can be used for different frame formats. Maximum picture size is 3648×2736 pixels, a 4:3 format matching traditional TV and computer screens. You can also select the 16:9 HDTV format (3648×2056 pixels) or the 3:2 format (same as “full frame” digital SLRs) at 3648×2432 pixels. Or, you can take internet-ready pictures (around 640×480 pixels) in-camera, for upload to a website directly.
The G3 also can shoot movies at 640×480 size, and 320×240, which Sony suggests for e-mail attachments.
The Carl Zeiss Tessar lens provides a 4X zoom range (35-140mm, 35mm equivalent), which covers moderate wide angle to medium telephoto— a respectable range for a camera this small. The optical steady shot system provides image-stabilization. Maximum aperture range is f/3.5-4.6, which would be more-or-less characteristic of a camera of this class.
Picture quality with the Sony G3 Cyber-shot strikes me as very good for a camera of this class. Being the tinycam it is, it uses a smallish imager which is not expected to reproduce quite the fine detail as a 10MP D-SLR, with its large imaging chip. That said, you couldn’t slip a D-SLR into a shirt pocket. I’m confident you’ll find the picture quality of the G3 completely satisfying. And with its loads of additional features, refinements, and fine-tunings, you’ll be impressed with how versatile and flexible today’s “simple camera” can be.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3
- 4-1/8”W x 2-1/2”H x 25/32”D, 7 oz.
- Image Sensor:
- Maximum Resolution:
- 3,648x,2736 pixels
- 3.5-inch LCD, 921,600 pixels
- Still Recording format:
- Memory Stick Duo, plus 4GB RAM internal
- Exposure Metering:
- Focusing Capability:
- Normal, Macro, and Close-Focus settings to approx.1/2-inch
- Special Features:
- Wireless connectivity, built-in web browser, Face Detection, Smile Shutter, 10 Scene modes, Touchscreen Focus, Optical Steady Shot image-stabilization.
- Video Recording Mode:
- MPEG1, approx. 12 minutes/GB in fine mode, 44 minutes/GB in standard mode, 2:57 hours in half mode.
- Provided Accessories:
- NP-BD1 Li-Ion battery, charger, touch screen stylus, combination USB/AV cable, wrist strap, Station Plate (for use with optional accessory).
- Power Source:
- NP-BD1 interchangeable Li-Ion battery.